Obituary: Architect Jerry Faszer Jr., 60, designed and built cutting-edge homes

Jerry Faszer Jr., a visionary architect who broke the cookie-cutter mold of many Sacramento-area subdivisions with cutting-edge designs for homes, died Oct. 12 of brain cancer, his family said. He was 60.

A self-employed architect and general contractor for more than 30 years, Mr. Faszer challenged architectural traditions that produced rows of staid Victorian, ranch and Spanish-style homes in local neighborhoods. He introduced clean, contemporary designs with open floor plans, angled walls and quirky exteriors that infused residential streetscapes with vitality and style.

Although he also designed and built conventional homes in upscale, uniform developments, he specialized in unique, custom residential and office spaces throughout Sacramento, Elk Grove, El Dorado Hills and El Macero. His drawings – done by hand, not computer – often challenged structural engineers, including a triangular, three-story building he designed near Florin Perkins Road and Folsom Boulevard.

“Sacramento is a very conservative community when it comes to architecture, and Jerry brought something innovative,” said Glenn Yee, a contractor and longtime friend. “People are either going to like it or hate it. His architecture was like art.”

Mr. Faszer’s projects drew notice in The Bee and other local media, including a live/work space he completed in 2000 at 20th and C streets in midtown Sacramento. Wedged on a small lot between railroad tracks and the Blue Diamond Growers plant, the structure of cinder blocks and corrugated steel is topped with a popped-up roof and gaping windows that flood the interior with natural light. The modern look sets the building apart on the edge of the historic Boulevard Park preservation district.

“It would stand out anywhere,” said owner Brian Witherell, an auctioneer and appraiser who commissioned Mr. Faszer for a two-story addition underway on the site. “I’ve lived in this place for 12 years, and I’m continually amazed at all the little things he does and how he carries them through the entire space. That’s what makes Jerry so unique.”

The son of a homebuilder, Jerome Wesley Faszer Jr. was born Sept. 12, 1953, in Lodi and graduated from Kennedy High School in Sacramento. He enrolled at Sacramento City College with plans to be an artist but changed his mind after getting frank advice from one of his teachers, noted painter Gregory Kondos.

“He was real with me,” Mr. Faszer told The Bee in 2000. “He told me how hard it is to pay your bills as an artist.”

Mr. Faszer designed and built his first home in the Berkeley Hills while studying at UC Berkeley. He graduated with honors and earned a master’s degree in architecture in 1979.

A modest, genial man with refined tastes, he collected Leica cameras and enjoyed European cars. He was devoted to family and friends and lived for many years in Roseville before designing and building a contemporary three-story home in midtown Sacramento in 2009.

“I’ve worked with over a hundred architects in my life, and I put Jerry on top,” structural engineer Carl Schubert said. “His imagination was indescribable.”

Mr. Faszer is survived by his wife of 31 years, Nancy; son Jerome III; daughter Sophia; parents Marlene and Jerome Sr.; brother Rodney; sister Philena; and grandmother Lena Brown.

A service is planned for 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at First Church of the Nazarene, 1820 28th St., Sacramento, followed by a celebration of life at 33912 South River Road, Clarksburg. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Church of the Nazarene.